Bright Skies: Selected Poems
by Maja Trochimczyk
85 poems ~ 160 color photos ~ 6 portraits ~ 184 pages
Price: $48.00 color paperback, $10.00 ebook
Publisher: Moonrise Press
ISBN: 978-1-945938-49-8 (color paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-945938-52-8 (ebook)
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Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

Bright Skies: Selected Poems, by Maja Trochimczyk, is a collection inspired by the births of her granddaughters, Aurelia and Juniper. Both girls were born in 2021. Maja has written the present volume specifically for Aurelia and Juniper to enjoy as adults. Meanwhile, the rest of us get to unwrap this poetic gem in real time. The twin goals of this review are to feature the work of an extraordinary poet and showcase the literary legacy designed to delight and shepherd Aurelia and Juniper.

Moonrise Press has produced Bright Skies on high quality stock, perfect for reproducing fine typography and full-color artwork. Featuring seasonal transitions supported by landscape and botanical imagery, Bright Skies rewarded me with each turn of the page.

Wallace Stevens, among the premier poets of the last century has written, “The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself.” Bright Skies is structured, whether consciously or not, with Stevens’ dictum in mind. Trochimczyk quite literally offers “her” world in word and image.

“A Springtime Revelation” sets the tone with these excerpts:

         I love my mountains
         blue and spring green, still
         under clear azure expanse.
         Their velvet pleats pile up
         In layers above the valley rocks,
         Pathways in empty riverbed.

Flanked by landscapes of California’s ruggedly beautiful mountains, the poem continues, stunningly faithful to the poem’s title:

         Only distant waves of truck noise
         from the freeway remind me that
         this paradise of mine, this fluid, living
         folding and unfolding is my L.A. home
         hidden in a strange metropolis,
         my own La La Land of bare mountains,
         and the brightest sunlit gardens.

In my youth a pear tree graced our property. I remember the squishiness of ripe fruit between my toes and the bees that hovered around them. “A Pear in a Tree,” augmented by a closeup of a pear, rouged and succulent, typifies the poet’s transition to summer:

         By the sandy path
         I climbed a pear tree
         To watch the road
         Melt into the horizon

         I ate a golden pear
         Juice stained my dress
         My daydream of white
         Softness cut short
         By the buzzing of wasps

         They, too, longed for
         The fruity sweetness
         Of warm summer pears
         They, too, dreamed
         Of endless sunlight.

A Word About the Poet’s Style & Perspective

Maja Trochimczyk asserts “I am a positive poet.” She means that she looks for and finds the good in life: good in family, good in faith, good in nature and the world.

How refreshing, this infusion of light, in a world that oftentimes seems dominated by bad news.

For Trochimczyk, the world is beautiful and has value. She highlights a world that is worth redeeming. While acknowledging the flawed nature of existence, she does not “live” there. She dwells in light. Let “Diamonds” serve as Exhibit A:

         In a seashell there is an ocean
         There is Universe within my heart
         A myriad galaxies dance in my mind
         I’m a microcosm of Divine design

         In a seashell there is an ocean
         In a dark coal mine white diamonds grow
         In your eyes I find ageless wisdom
         The One Love that sustains us all

         In your guilt I see my darkness
         In your beauty–radiance and light
         In your voice–the calling, the calling

         Mountain air on a spring morning
         Sparkling diamonds, radiant and pure–
         For all forevers you enfold me in Love

Trochimczyk’s body of work bears witness to a mature writing style which uses all the tools in a poet’s toolbox. Most importantly, however, is the mind and heart from which her poems spring. Her substantive ideas are accessible. As Aurelia and Juniper mature, they will see and experience that legacy of goodness embodied in a book they can hold.

In a previous collection Maja “gave the world” to her first grandson, Adam. Here’s an excerpt:

         I give you my world with veins of gold
         slicing through the drab clay hours,
         drops of amber hidden in sand,
         turquoise among slabs of granite,
         and pure diamonds in charcoal.
         I give your rocks in the riverbed,
         white, grey, and veined with pink–
         So you step on the solid foundation
         and grow up with both feet on the ground
         strong and stronger each day.

In an age of family disintegration, could there be a more important gift?

Maja could do no less than compose a comparable volume for Aurelia and Juniper. The poem “Gifts” summarizes, better than I ever could, her love and legacy:

                  … the necklace of songs, that you take as a gift
                           ~ Rabindranath Tagore

         I gather sunlight
         in my palms
         to save for later
         when it’s dark outside
         and hope seems lost.

         My hands are full
         of brightness.
         I gingerly carry
         the tangle of sunrays
         in a procession of gifts,
         down the isle.

         I gather sunlight
         to keep close
         to my heart,
         and warm us
         through cold
         winter nights
         with a rich glow
         of sunfire.

Editor’s note: Rabindranath Tagore, (1861-1941), was a Bengali poet, the first non-Euro-pean to win the Nobel Prize for literature.


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